The ITF’s two-year doping ban, imposed following Sharapova’s positive test for the heart-boosting drug meldonium in January, was reduced to 15 months by the court of arbitration for sport on Tuesday.
The 29-year-old former Wimbledon champion and world No1, in her first interview since the Cas ruling, said: “I got a 24-month suspension but they [ITF] wanted four years for me. I went through the ITF hearing, which was in front of an arbitration panel which was chosen by the ITF.
“I am at a hearing [in London] knowing the people I am speaking to were chosen by the people I am actually in a fight with. They call that neutral? That is not neutral. Cas is neutral and this is what Cas has awarded to me.”
Asked by interviewer Charlie Rose of the US television station PBS if she thought the ITF was trying to make an example of her, Sharapova replied: “I never wanted to believe that but I am starting to think that.”
In the ruling that accompanied its decision, Cas stated Sharapova’s degree of fault fell short of the ITF’s description of “significant” but the player was “still the sole author of her own misfortune” in carrying on taking meldonium after the drug had been added to the World Anti-Doping agency’s banned list.
Meldonium was added at the start of the year, having been on Wada’s monitoring list for all of 2015 and athletes were warned several times by email it was about to be prohibited, emails Sharapova did not read.
Sharapova has said that she took meldonium for 10 years because of a magnesium deficiency, dizziness and a family history of diabetes. More than 300 athletes, mostly other Eastern Europeans, have tested positive for meldonium this year.